Posts Tagged ‘books’

A few days ago, this happened: a rave review of my novel Relative Karma.

This is a big deal. To me. All reviews are important, and I greet each one–whether good or bad–with gratitude.

But this latest one knocked me back a step. Because the review was done by Anthony Servante. And if that wasn’t enough, my book was given to Servante by one of my literary heroes, Trent Zelazny.

And, though Relative Karma was published second, it is actually my first novel. A novel based loosely on real-world events. My world. A world I hope never to revisit. Somehow, inexplicably, this book continues to connect with readers. I don’t understand that, and I don’t have to. I just have to be grateful.

And I am. Because reviews like this make me keep going. It’s possible that someday I will be able to carve out a living doing what I love: writing books and stories. For now it is enough to know I am doing it, and doing it in a way that seems to be working.

Mr. Servante’s review is below. When you are done, read everything else he has done and be glad you made his cyber acquaintance.

And read Trent Zelazny‘s work. All of it.

Click on the picture to read the review:

 

Karma Cover Website New

 

 

And if you are interested in more from me, click on the image below.

 

Martin Logo

In many ways 2015 was one of the darkest years of my life; in many other ways it wasn’t. I suppose that’s what we call balance.

Toward the end of the year, as my personal life began to brighten, I repaid the Universe by seeing the publication of one of the darkest books I’ve ever written (or read). In December of 2015, Black Rose Writing published A Fractured Conjuring.

A Fractured Conjuring - Concept 2 Variant - Large

For reasons not entirely clear to me, it has been called a “brilliant, disturbing, and important work.” Well… “disturbing” I understand. This book has been disturbing me for years; disturbing my sleep, my peace of mind.

But how does a thing like this come to be?

I can’t help but wonder what people will think when they read the book, if they will think me depraved or simply mean-spirited. Some will ask questions as to why I thought it important to write such a thing.

And I will be at a loss for an answer. Because I truly don’t know.

I’ve maintained for years that this writing game is somewhat beyond my ken; an idea comes out of nowhere and then…grows. Characters supply their own dialogue; unforeseen people and events spring out of the ether and onto the page. When I explain this, the average person (the normal person who maybe does not lie awake listening to voices telling them there’s really no point in trying to sleep) looks at me askance, cocks an eyebrow, making it clear they don’t believe me. I can only shrug.

To the nightmare at hand; to A Fractured Conjuring. How did this particular nastiness happen?

A simple road sign:

Kimberlina Road

On a road trip to (of all places) Disneyland, my eyes spotted this sign. I’ve been on this trek countless times over the past twenty years, and have likely seen this sign on every one of those trips. But this time…that sweet name got stuck in my head and began to fester. I had no history with the name, no connection to my past, no sense at all why it grabbed hold. But I couldn’t shake it loose. I somehow knew this was going to be the name of a character in a book, and that this character would have important things to say, or maybe to teach me. I had zero sense of the story itself, only that it would be dark. And maybe big.

As the days and weeks passed I began to feel that the story could possibly span millennia, covering massive ground both temporally and geographically. I have no idea why I thought this—I didn’t have a story, only a feeling.

It’s hard to adequately describe what it’s like to have a story growing inside you, but somehow doing so outside your influence. It’s…well, disturbing.

More than a year went by before I set a single word to paper. I did so only then because I thought I might have an idea what the opening pages looked like. I got 6,000 or so words in before I stopped and laid it aside. I was scared. Not of what I was writing, but that I would mess it up. The feeling for this story had been infesting my brain for better than a year—how could I possibly do it justice? So I ran from it. I did other things. But Kimberlina stayed with me, a grimy child’s ghost fingers tugging at the hem of my shirt, telling me I had work to do, her story to tell. Didn’t matter that I didn’t know what that story was.

Eventually I got back to it. I barely remember my first efforts at conjuring this child, but I know that those early efforts never made it into the final book.

This is the part where I get around to telling you how the final book came to be, right?

Wrong. Because I still can’t tell you that. I still don’t know. When I wrote The End, I couldn’t help but ask myself: “Is it really? The end of what? Where did it begin?”

One of the main characters in A Fractured Conjuring is writing a book she knows nothing about—not too hard to figure out how that came to be—and as I was proofing the final copy, I came across a line I hardly remembered writing:

Still, she couldn’t keep away from it, and she didn’t feel so much like she was writing the story as it was somehow writing her.

And this:

What Chloe knew for certain was that she couldn’t leave this new project alone. It unnerved her; it wouldn’t leave her alone.

And that’s as close as I can come to explaining how this particular book came to be.

Oh, and then this happened:

FC Best of 2015

A book one reviewer called an “important” book.

Another reader, so unnerved by the story that she read it multiple times in an effort to understand, wrote this in an afterword she penned for the book:

“Martin Reaves…had the temerity to tackle an ugly, horrible subject, and he treated it with kindness and cleanliness. Yes, cleanliness.”

The same reviewer who it called it an important work ended his review with this:

“If you have never felt like your soul has been taken away from you at some point in your life, I wouldn’t recommend reading it.”

How does one create something so volatile that it can be recommended, then un-recommended in the same review?

How does one write a story he has almost no memory of plotting and have it hit a target he didn’t even know was there?

I have no answers.

And Kimberlina has only begun to speak.

 

A Fractured Conjuring is available now from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

countdown6

Part 6. It seems like only yesterday we were at Part 1.

Here’s a question: Anyone else bothered by the fact that we are counting up and not down? Interesting the things one notices long after the time such scrutiny would actually have been of value.

Anyhoo…

As our countdown begins to wind up (?!), I thought I’d drag Logan Cain in here for a little chit chat. You all know Logan, yes? Pastor of Midtown Community Church? No? Has no one read Relative Karma? How about Relative Sanity???

Geez, people. Just…geez.

So, I met with Pastor Logan at The Shanghai, a bar of local legend in Auburn, CA. Rumor is it’s haunted. Well, more than a rumor—I’ve been there into the wee hours, and if the air wasn’t congested with spirits then we were experiencing some kind of weird barometric phenomenon.

I knew Logan Cain from Relative Karma and had no trouble recognizing him when he walked through the door into the dimly-lit establishment. He was taller than I expected, with his silvery mane pulled into a long braid. He had on a Marilyn Manson t-shirt and his jeans were so shredded I had to look away—some things you just don’t need to see. He caught the bartender’s attention (who obviously recognized him, and looked oddly familiar to me) and held up two fingers, then pointed at me. He was at my table in two long strides and gripping my hand gently as he sat.

ME: You knew who I was?
LOGAN CAIN: That surprise you?
ME (shrugging): Yeah, I guess a little. Have we met?
LOGAN (cocking an eyebrow): I’ve spent plenty of time in that noggin of yours. You’re easy to spot.

I squirmed a little.

ME: Uhhh, yeah, I guess I get that. Anyway, thanks for meeting with me. You cool to answer a few questions?
LOGAN: Shoot.

A large pitcher of beer arrived with two mugs. I hadn’t planned on drinking, but if the man was buying…the waitress also looked familiar and I was starting to get a little head-swimmy with déjà vu.

ME: Is that Jewel?
LOGAN: Looks like her, doesn’t it?

He smiled…Cheshire Cat smiled…the room tilted and I continued.

ME: So, uhhh…we know how you met Jeff Vincent. I was wondering about your background. It’s pretty clear you give new meaning to the word unorthodox when it comes to what we expect of a pastor—
LOGAN (interrupting): Expectations are the bane of this sad world’s existence, son. Everyone is too busy trying to fit into someone else’s mold. What a fresh world it would be if we all approached life on our own terms, with our own open minds. Who cares what came before? Are you open-minded, son?

At that moment a blonde walked in that sucked all my breath away through my eyeballs. And, of course, I knew her.

ME: Uhhh…
LOGAN (snapping his fingers in front of my face): You in there, partner?
ME: I, um, yeah, I’m here.

I looked around, turning a three-sixty in my chair. I knew everyone here. And they were all watching me.

ME: What’s going on here?
LOGAN (leaning back, mimicking deep thought): Hmmm, “what’s going on?” the man asks.

Someone grabbed my chair from behind and tilted it sharply back. I turned and gasped. A big chunk of crumbling granite who could only be Karl Luber smiled down at me.

KARL: Congratulations, Reaves.
ME: …Errr…what the hell…?

The bartender waved. It was Detective Alex Tinkham from Relative Sanity. The stunning blonde was Shelley Vincent; Jeff Vincent was at the far corner smirking his butt off. Barista Benny was at the juke box next to Suzi and Wendy. Ramona was shooting pool with Nick Grimmer. And walking towards me…I began to hyperventilate.

LOGAN: Easy, son. Easy now.
ME: That’s Daniel. (He stopped before me, his goofy eye dancing). You are, aren’t you? You’re Daniel?
DANIEL (holding out his hand): H-h-happy h-handshake day, M-M-Mike!

I looked at Logan Cain, my mouth moving but nothing coming out.

ME: How is he here…he can’t be, he’s…
LOGAN Sure he is. Big deal. The Shanghai no longer exists either, so why swallow that camel and strain at Daniel?

The next few hours passed. I know they did, but I have no idea what transpired. Somewhere around midnight, Jeff Vincent stood on a table and clapped his hands.

JEFF: Everyone! Listen up. I appreciate all of you taking time to materialize here, but I didn’t bring you together just to party.

Jeff then went to the front door and whistled for someone. A minute later a nice-looking guy walked in looking a little uncomfortable.

JEFF: Everyone, this is Branden McKenzie.

There was a collective gasp within the room, loudest of all from me.

JEFF (pausing for effect): Ladies, gents, and sordid folks, the wait is over. Relative Karma is available NOW in audio!

There was a great deal of applause, and back-slapping, and drinks sloshing. I hugged Branden, who still looked like someone sleep-walking. I don’t blame him.

ME: Hold on! It’s only Part 6 of the countdown, errr…up. What do I do with the rest of the parts? And there’s supposed to be a quiz at the end!

Karl Luber grabbed me by the scruff of the neck (it did not feel good) and told me to hang the f-ing quiz (he didn’t say “f-ing”). I decided the quiz could go hang.

KARL: Listen, Reaves. Your people need to get clicking right now. HERE, HERE, or even HERE. Understand? You know what I’m capable of. If your people have been reading your books, they know too.

do it now

Which I guess brings us to the end of this weirdness. Ahead of schedule, and screaming to be heard, Relative Karma has gone audio. Download and listen. Report back to me. Go visit Branden McKenzie and tell him how awesome he is.
And thank you for joining me. I may still drag out a prize or two, but right now I need to put Jeff Vincent in a cab. He’s looking a little wobbly.

*     *     *

alrighty then

*     *     *

Relative Karma - ACX FINAL

countdown5

 

We’re at the halfway point. Huzzah!

huzzah
Because I’m tired (and because you have better things to do) I’ll keep this one short. Just a couple things to ponder…

#1: Fiction is all lies. Everything we write is lies, including this very sentence. You can’t trust anything a writer says in print. Case in point is the boiler plate nonsense you find in any book of fiction regarding persons living or dead. In Relative Karma it comes right under the title. Consider this rubbish:

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Please. We all know it’s not true, right? Well, sure, the names are changed—I’m not a complete idiot. But, as noted in Part 1, this is all based on a slightly enhanced version of true events. What actually happens in the forward flow of the narrative is made up, but what happened to get the ball rolling is true. It happened. And two of the characters are based on real people. Three of the locations in the book are real, with only one undergoing a name change because my characters spend so much time there I didn’t want to anger anyone due to an unwitting misrepresentation.

Coincidence my ass.

#2: Remember early on in this countdown series when I started blathering on about prizes? Well, I wasn’t kidding. The first person to comment on this particular post (below, not on Facebook) will get a $10.00 Amazon gift card. One exception: It cannot be someone who’s already commented on any of the previous countdown blogs. If you are one of those few who have previously commented, go tell a friend to get over here and drop a comment. Maybe they’ll buy you something.

What’s that you say? The prizes were supposed to be part of a quiz at the end?

Just goes to show what I said in point #1. You can’t trust anything a writer says.

* * *
(Click on rock star me below. Go ahead, I’ll wait.)

the krude

* * *

Relative Karma - ACX FINAL

countdown4

As we inch closer to the release of Relative Karma on audio, I want to talk about something that most non-writers don’t understand. Well, to be perfectly honest, most writers don’t understand it either, but it is something we come to trust, to believe will happen if we show up, put our ass in the chair, click our heels together three times…oh wait, that’s something else.

scarecrow

I’m talking about those mysterious moments during the writing of a project where things happen on which the writer did not plan. But it’s really bigger than that—every writer worth his or her salt follows the characters where they lead, listens when they speak, and writes it all down. Often times we are surprised by our characters’ bursts of dialogue. This is more or less the normal course of things for a writer, even when the story is outlined ahead of time. Unanticipated events occur and we smile, knowing the muse is singing and all is right with the world.

But what I really want to focus on is the pure, out-of-left-field happenstance that hugely affects a story and sends it off in an unforeseen direction.

In the case of Relative Karma, it was the loveable character Daniel. I don’t know where he came from, I honestly don’t. He literally showed up on the page (or on the street) as Jeff Vincent was walking from his apartment to Starbucks. Like so:

An hour and a half later I was walking south on Fifteenth toward K Street.The morning air had a snap to it and I noticed the homeless were beginning to sport their fall wardrobes; ragged scarves and soup-stained sweaters were all the rage this season. One poor bastard at the corner of Fifteenth and H was so shabby and filthy he looked more like a caricature of a bum than an actual homeless person. The dirt on his face looked applied; he was wearing honest-to-God fingerless mittens, and his “will work for food” sign—which carried a great deal of information regarding his plight—was so full of misspellings it had to be intentional. I stopped in front of him.

Boom. New character. And no garden-variety extra, either.

I had one job: get Jeff out of his apartment and a few blocks over to Starbucks to meet the femme fatale who may or may not be his undoing. And what does Jeff do during his walk? He starts looking around, sort of like any normal person would do, and he sees this homeless guy and…

And suddenly this homeless guy is telling Jeff his name. And (what’s going on here???) we start to like this guy. Jeff likes him, too, and offers to buy him a cup of coffee. The point to understand here is that I saw Daniel completely when he showed up on my screen. I heard him speak and fell in love with him. Instantly.

I suppose this kind of thing happens all the time with bit players and spear carriers. But it’s not quite as common with major characters. At least not with me.

How does this happen?

I can only go back to Stephen King’s theory of where stories come from, that they are found things (see On Writing). A story (I’m paraphrasing Mr. King) is something that exists somewhere in the ether as a complete entity. All we have to do as writers is find it (or it finds us) and write it down. King likens it to a fossil, mostly buried but with a tiny bit poking through the surface. We notice it—my, what an interesting little shard of rock that is—and begin our work, chiseling gently to uncover the whole. Sometimes we get a lot, sometime only a little. Our skill and a good deal of luck determine just how much we unearth.
I like this idea. It makes sense. And it helps explain the inexplicable.

It also makes one believe in serendipity, which of course is just another relative word for karma.

i see what you did

Go now, people, and find your serendipity. If nothing else, it’s a really fun word to say.

*     *     *

(click on groovy me below…the hair demands it)

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*     *     *

Relative Karma - ACX FINAL

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Aaaaand…we’re back.

were-back-baby

Back from where? A brief disruption. A disruption from what? Why, Part 1 & Part 2, of course.

Onward!

I am delighted to announce that the final audio proof has been approved!

i approve

Audible tells me the audio version of Relative Karma should be available for purchase within 2 – 3 weeks. Happy dance!

So, what is Relative Karma all about? As noted in Part 1, this is a “what-if” story. What if the true events that inspired the story had turned out differently? My imagination had an idea what that would look like and supplied a grimy landscape of depression and aimlessness, with our hero spending his days pawing through yard sale boxes and thrift store detritus in a search for castoff relics. We don’t actually see him do any of this, but it’s what my mind knew he had been up to in the year since he left Shelley. I don’t remember consciously deciding that Jeff Vincent’s search service would act as metaphor for something deeper, but that seems to be what happened. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 2, in which Jeff has staked out a table at The Yuba where he goes often to drink his runaway memories into submission:

Jewel seems to understand my obsession with finding things for other people when it clearly doesn’t pay to do so, which is saying something because I never quite understood it myself beyond the simple desire to stay distracted. She once said it’s like I was searching for something I’d lost, or maybe just hadn’t found yet.

Of course he lost—or threw away—Shelley, the one person in this great big world he truly loved. And he hated himself for it. And so, day in and day out, he went in search of lost things; missing things; or (to fine-tune the metaphor a bit) things people wanted and felt they couldn’t live without.

As I listened through the audio version recently I was struck by how much metaphor there is throughout the story.

A burning bed for our unfaithful protagonist? Yes, we have one. Trite? Maybe. Poignant? You bet.

And there’s more, a lot more, but I don’t want to give you everything here.

Maybe Relative Karma is not unique. Maybe every fictional story—be it roman à clef or not—is a symbol or metaphor for something. It almost has to be, doesn’t it? At the very least we are dealing with analogy. Every story is a writer’s attempt to show or understand an old thing in a new way, first to ourselves, then to our readers.

Read the book and see what you think. When the audio version comes out, give it a listen. And please share your thoughts. I’m truly interested.

And remember to share this blog with your friends and cohorts. Get them to follow along. There will be prizes at the end. Oh yes there will.

omgitspins

*     *     *

“Awesome story with great characters and perfect flow. Martin Reaves writes with passion. You can feel it in every word, every sentence. He takes words and puts them together so successfully, it keeps you wanting more and more. He writes clean. He writes clear. And he writes with a purpose. Read this book, then read everything else by him.You will not be disappointed.” ~ Malina Roos ~

*     *     *

(click on my scowling face–I promise I won’t bite!)

mott2

*     *     *

Relative Karma - ACX FINAL

This is not Part 3 of our 10-Part Countdown. It should be, but it isn’t.

interruption

 

I began working on Part 3 and it occurred to me that my time could be better spent Writing (yes, capital W).

“But this is a promotion of a new (sort of) release,” my inner taskmaster said. “It’s important to your burgeoning career.”

I ignored my inner voice’s loose usage of the word “career” and wondered if the sentiment were true.

Is it important? It could be, of course it could. Get the word out. Make a splash. Create some excitement. Get people reading about the new…ahhh, and there’s the rub.

As I typed “Part 3” I couldn’t help but be distracted by the hollow echo of the keys. Clickety-clack (clack) ((clack)) (((clack)))…

Why the echo? Or, perhaps more accurately, why the feeling that my words are echoing in an empty cavern?

Because my own quacking voice is all I hear.

In Parts 1 & 2 of this countdown I opened the floor for comments and questions.

<crickets>

In Part 1 I admitted to something very personal that nearly destroyed my wife and I some fifteen years ago.

<crickets>

In both preceding parts (and this is maybe most disturbing of all) I made mention of prizes. Prizes, not incidentally, that would have been purchased out of my pocket.

Cue crickets.

I don’t have a promotional team. I have only me. My day job sucks very nearly every last bit of energy I have—what I do, I do long after or before normal working hours. We all do this, of course we do. I’m no different in this regard, but it’s a point worth making. Time is limited and it could (and should) be better spent turning out new work.

I think my limited funds will stay in my pocket.

And my limited time will be spent rolling the bones and exorcising demons. Which is to say: Writing.

I’m not so whiny as to say no one cares, but I am realistic enough to see what appears to be truth: No one is reading these words.

I don’t begrudge anyone their choice to offer their attention elsewhere—we all have too much to read and do as it is. I am happy to add to the load if anyone is paying attention, but I don’t think that’s the case here.

To clarify: I will keep Writing fiction, and even blogging when I have something to get off my chest, or something that just plain amuses me enough to set down in type. But blogging and Writing are not the same thing. Writing demands I do it. Blogging is about as productive to my Writing as watching television, although a good deal less entertaining.

That’s all for now.

countdown2

 

And so we continue.

You may well be asking, “Continue with what?”

To which I answer: “Part 2 of the 10-Part Countdown to the Release of Relative Karma on Audio!”

To which you rejoinder: “Part 2? Where the deuce can I read Part 1???”

And I (trying not to become exasperated) say: “Right friggin HERE, ya big lummox!”

Go on, read Part 1…I’ll wait.

asleep at puter

Ah, back now? Good.

Things are heating up in the production booth, my friends. The final proof of the audio version of Relative Karma has been approved. I could not be happier. And as this process seems to be going a good deal more quickly than I anticipated, we’re going to need to speed through the next nine parts of this countdown and on to the quiz yonder down the road.

Ah yes, the quiz. Did I mention prizes? Prizes there will be, and so far—based on the sheer volume of crickets I hear—I will be keeping those prizes for myself. We shall see.

As noted in Part 1, I am open to questions. Hard or easy, hit me with your queries and I shall answer as best I can.

For this installment of the countdown, I want to drop a chunk of chapter 1 on you that was particularly poignant for me.

Our hero, Jeff Vincent, has been on his own for a year. Full of self-loathing and having no real desire to do anything other

than punish himself, he finds his way to a tattoo parlor (Roxy’s Ink Spot) where he is beginning to realize just how much a

tattoo in the center of one’s chest hurts. His reminiscence here is partially how things happened, and partially fabrication.

But the tone and intensity of his regret is very much how I felt during those very dark days in the real world.

*     *     *

Relative Karma, excerpt from Chapter 1

“Here we go,” Roxy said.

I breathed in a lungful of Roxy’s cloying lemony body spray, and tried to relax into the incessant, swarming sting, to embrace the buzz of the needles and the resultant fire in my chest. It’s apparently not enough that the little harpoons are jamming ink under your skin—they have to scrape the fucking pigment in when they do the shading, which is the part they do last, fifteen or twenty minutes past the point where you decided this maybe wasn’t the brightest idea you’d ever had.

Though the pain was very nearly an all-consuming thing, I somehow managed to let my mind drift elsewhere. If I went far enough back there were uncontaminated memories to draw from, and these sepia-toned, eight-millimeter images of my childhood in Los Angeles began to float to the surface even as the metallic wasp did its work.

I let the burning acupuncture bury objectivity and found myself almost enjoying the impromptu trip back through time. Outside this silent-movie perfection Roxy murmurs something, but it doesn’t register because I am not there; I am fourteen years old, squirming on the hardwood church pew as the youth choir files onto the stage. And I am suddenly aware of nothing but little blond Shelley with the enormous glasses. Maybe it was her glasses that did it—they magnified her eyes and I swear she was staring at me. I couldn’t sit up tall enough. She saw me, looked directly at me—through me—and I swear to God nothing before that morning was ever as real or finely honed as that moment. She couldn’t have been more than twelve years old but I was barely fourteen and when had anything in church (or anywhere else) ever shanghaied my attention like this?

That had been the beginning, but that was then and this was now, and in the relentless fucking now my mind was trying desperately to slam on the brakes and drag me back to the present. But it was too late. From that first dreamy sight of Shelley in the youth choir I was suddenly thrust forward into the recent past: Shelley’s face is there, at first thrilled that I am home early from work…then her features seem to melt in my mind as she is drained of comprehension at the realization of my confessed betrayal. I see her beginning to hyperventilate as I deliver my half-assed fabrication of why I am leaving her, how I have been living a lie, pretending the love when the feelings were gone. I see her try to stand then collapse as though the floor is no longer there.

My mind began a sickening leapfrog through time, back and forth: That day the youth choir sang (“Dad, can Shelley go to lunch with us?”); our wedding day, watching her seem to float down the aisle on her father’s arm; our honeymoon, and the delightful shriek as I laid a sand crab on her gloriously bare stomach at Huntington Beach; then sobbing with her after she miscarried our first and only child.

Stutter-step back and I’m falling into her eyes as I promised to honor her as long as I lived; and twenty-two years later, shattering that promise with virtually no thought at all.

Roxy’s voice jolted me back. “What do you think?”

*    *    *

And with that little bit of whimsy I leave you to comment as you will.

Feel free to share (please do, please do, please do) and I will see you back here for Part 3.

“Reaves is a quality wordsmith and his attention to detail is evident in his works. He understands mood and setting better than most and can spit dialogue like he’s emptying a machine gun’s clip. His books do not disappoint.”

~ Mark Leftridge, author of Our Bridges Made of Sticks, Safe Sects, and When the Hangman Weeps ~

*     *     *

(click on scary me below…you know you want to)

creepy mott5

*     *     *

Relative Karma - ACX FINAL

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Pay attention, kids, because there will be a quiz when the countdown ends and the confetti flies. It will be a tough quiz and there will be prizes. You have been warned.

Now then. Why have I brought you all here today? Because—cyber drumroll, if you please—Relative Karma is going audio! To say I’m excited is to vastly understate the situation. It’s more like this:

Im-so-excited

Yes, exactly like that.

Relative Karma is an intensely personal book for me; much of the inspiration for the book was taken (sort of) from real life. More on that later.

What has me squeeeeeing like that goldilocks above is the shear magic of hearing my characters rise up and speak so many years after their creation. They live, ladies and gents, they liiiive!

Its-Alive

Ahem. It’s at this point that I need to give a hellacious shout-out to the brilliant narrator of Relative Karma, Branden Mckenzie. His gift is substantial and I am over the moon that we found each other.

But on to the reason for calling you all forth from the nether regions. As the audio rendition has brought Relative Karma back to life for its creator, so would I like to breathe life into the book itself. Or, if you will, the story. Why I wrote it. Why I had to write it. Why I care about it, and why I want you to go and do likewise. To that end, I will endeavor to open myself to you by giving a behind-the-scenes look at the characters, excerpts from the book (with commentary), and, as promised above, a sprinkling of clues along the way for the quiz at the end. I hope you will find all this interesting. I hope you will tell your friends. And (heck, we all know why you’re really here) I hope you will all go out and by the book (click here) and review it and generally make a great big fuss about it.

I intend to bare my soul. And trust me, the inspiration for Relative Karma ain’t pretty. Some of you may well decide you’d be better off crossing me off your list of acquaintances. I will understand. I very nearly crossed myself off. I do not take lightly the circumstances that led to the telling (or retelling) of this story.

Make no mistake: Relative Karma is a work of fiction; a what-if scenario that grew legs and ran off. But every ounce of emotion portrayed is real. I lived it, and nearly died with it.

That’s probably enough for starters, but I will leave you with this:

There are three people central to this story who are based on real folks—Jeff Vincent, Shelley Vincent, and Darcy Lytle. Only two will have their real names revealed. The third is long out of my life and I wish her no harm—there are very few people still in my life who know her true identity, and outside of my immediate family they are unlikely to read this post or my book.

Jeff Vincent is me. No big shock there, it’s a first-person narrative. Shelley is my lovely wife Charla (yes, I checked with her before posting this). And (this is where I want to delete all this and move on to something else) I did lose my mind and leave my beloved for another, more or less as described. And, as described in the narrative, I came unhinged when I realized what I’d done. Jeff’s self-loathing in the book tells it better than I want to in this post. Enough.

This is us, much as we appeared in my head during the writing, although not quite so blurry:

Jeff and Shelley

With the exception of Jeff Vincent’s colossal act of betrayal, none of the things in Relative Karma actually happened. But I did live for a brief, dark time at the exact location referenced in midtown Sacramento. And The Yuba is exactly where I said it is, although with a different name. Go there; eat the food; drink the beer. You will not be disappointed.

As I said, the story started with a what-if question: “What would my life have looked like if things had not gone as they did? In short: What if Charla had not taken me back?”

The question “What if?” is the writer’s best friend. Everything stems from that one simple query. We just have to be brave enough to try and answer it honestly. And on the subject of questions, I offer myself up to yours. Ask me anything (preferably about Relative Karma, but I’m flexible) and I will answer as honestly as is possible. Post your question(s) in the comments section below and I will address them in a later post. I promise.

I’ll leave you now with the opening lines of Relative Karma:

I’d been dead for a year…
The day my life began to literally take on color again was a Friday, exactly one year to the day after I did everything in my power to fuck it all up for good. This colorful Friday was also one day before people started showing up dead.

What one very kind reviewer had to say:

“This novel was an excellent, entertaining ride. I enjoyed it so much that I read it all in one day. Reaves creates a genuine landscape of real people suffering from regret and trying to pull their lives back together. He sets the stage for a juicy mystery, kicked off by a strange murder that turns the life of his main character upside down. The novel’s twists and turns keep the reader guessing and wondering what will happen next. This was the first novel I’ve read by Reaves, and it was fantastic.
~ Sara Brooke, author of Kransen House and The Awakening ~

 

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(click on fancy me below…I’m fancy)

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Relative Karma - ACX FINAL

clapper

2014 happened. It’s in the can, as the movie folk are wont to say.

The fat lady has shrieked, at times a delightful aria, other times more than a little off-key.

opera-viking

So what was all the bellowing about?

My dad passed on January 14th, just two days after I completed my first (and possibly only) Marathon. Those two events got the year started with a bang and a sigh.

Other things happened in 2014, including the sale of a short story entitled “Reaping a Quiet Lunacy.” Many of the things were memorable (including making the Solstice List 2014: Best Horror Books Not to be Missed in two categories), many more were not. Hard to top those opening two weeks, right?

But we speak of vaporous things when we speak of the year that was. The vapor dissipates and we move on—we really have no choice in the matter. For good or ill we turn our gaze forward.

And what do I see in the oft murky glass of my crystal ball?

I see a good year. A year I have dubbed The Year of No Worries. Here are a few other things I see in more or less chronological order:

1. A four-day trip to Disneyland. Well, duh, who didn’t see that coming? This one will be just Charla and me, which is my most favoritest way to do the Magic Kingdom (I love you, Erin and Mandie, but you’ll just have to deal with this truth).

2. A seven-day trip to Maui to celebrate thirty years of marriage to my sweetie-pie, snookums. I am, as might be expected, in a high state of anticipation. I fear for my ability to get back on the plane at the end of the seven days. If I fail to return to the contiguous forty-eight the rest of this list may well be moot.

3. I have been enlisted to officiate at the wedding of two good friends. I am working on my stand-up routine. They will rue the day.

And on the writing front…

4. “Scribblers on Celluloid” (a part of this very blog upon which your eyes have landed) will continue, although nowhere near as often as my far too ambitious once-a-week promise.

5. My novel Relative Karma will be available in audio format.

6. My novel Relative Sanity will available in audio, although this is subject to available funds.

7. There are not one but two projects in the works with a writer friend/hero of mine: one a pseudo collaboration, the other a double bill, in which we each offer a novella and the editor crams them into one book. I won’t name names because I am not clear on whether we are talking about this yet or not.

8. By hook or crook, my latest novel A Fractured Conjuring will hit the cyber stands.

These are all things I am fairly certain about.

A few other just-a-tad-bit-less-sure projects include work on a sequel to A Fractured Conjuring, a second book of short fiction, Dark Thoughts II, and a third (hopefully more lighthearted) installment in the Relative series in time for the holidays, Relative Yuletide.

But enough about me…what are y’all up to?